Farmers in Niger benefit from letting trees grow in their fields

| May 30, 2022

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Our Farmer story from Tanzania presents an effort to use forests more sustainability. Our Script of the week also discusses sustainable use of trees and shrubs—but this time, in crop fields. 

In the 1970s and 80s, much was written on the energy crisis in Sahelian countries and in other arid and semi-arid areas. There appeared to be a large gap between the population’s energy needs —almost exclusively provided by wood—and the capacity of trees and shrubs to meet that need. At this time, the Sahel had been struck by successive years of drought. Agricultural land extended further and further into marginal zones, whose vegetation was destroyed.

It appeared that the vegetation near cities in the Sahel was going to be completely destroyed due to the rapidly growing population’s need for fuel wood.

It was thought that vegetation in the Sahel was declining from overuse by the population. While that was obviously happening in some parts of the Sahel, there were many areas which were experiencing an increase in woody vegetation. For example, in Niger, increases in woody vegetation took place in the Tahoua, Maradi, and Zinder regions. In Tahoua, tree planting was organized by projects focusing on the rehabilitation of barren lands, while farmers also began protecting trees and shrubs which grew back naturally. At the same time, livestock farmers protected natural vegetation such as the tree species, Acacia raddiana. In Maradi, NGOs helped farmers to protect and manage trees and shrubs which regenerated spontaneously on their farms. This process began in the mid-1980s. More recently, a project in the Aguié district supported creating village organizations to protect, manage, and use on-farm trees. In Zinder, a large-scale farmer accomplished natural regeneration.

This script discusses Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). FMNR is a practice undertaken by farmers that consists of protecting and managing the re-growth of trees and shrubs in fields. FMNR benefits farmers by bringing back woody vegetation. Farmers almost always concentrate on bringing back trees and shrubs with an economic value.

This script is based on actual interviews. You could use this script as inspiration to research and write a script on a similar topic in your area. Or you might choose to produce this script on your station, using voice actors to represent the speakers. If so, please make sure to tell your audience at the beginning of the program that the voices are those of actors, not the original people involved in the interviews.